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Alexandra King

Dancer, Producer, Choreographer & Teacher

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Based in Santa Barbara, CA., Alexandra King is a recognized and highly regarded Middle Eastern dance artist throughout the United States. Since opening her school 1981, Alexandra King Dance has entertained audiences, trained students and inspired appreciation for and understanding of the diverse arts and cultures of Greece and the Middle East. Many of her students have become professionals and prominent artists such as Tamra-henna, Paulina and Saundra. She has worked internationally as a performer, choreographer, producer and teacher, and has traveled extensively throughout North Africa, Greece and the Middle East to observe and study the dances of these regions. 

 

Her training includes ballet, pointe, tap, Middle Eastern and Greek folk dances, classical Persian dance, Polynesian dance, flamenco, Bharata Natyam and four styles of cabaret dance.

 

From 2000-2004 she was a lecturer in the UCSB Department of Dramatic Arts and Dance teaching Dances of the Middle East.

In 1989 she co-founded the UCSB Middle East Ensemble with Dr. Scott Marcus and Sue Rudnicki and was its dance director until 2010 when she retired from the Ensemble.  During her tenure as the dance director, she developed a broad repertoire of dance styles from throughout Greece and the Middle East. In 2023 she returned as its director.

Personal Background

Alexandra  was raised in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, where the blend of African, Latin, and East Indian cultures planted the seeds of her love of world dance and music. Her inspiration came growing up in a family with three generations of performing artists on both sides, including silent screen star, Molly King, Uncle Charlie King, (star of Broadway Melody, 1929, an Academy Award picture), her mother, Broadway actress Peggy French, and her maternal grandparents, Edward (chairman of Columbia Artists) and Virginia French, both composers and concert pianists. She began dance classes at the age of ten which stoked the fire to become a dancer.

Career

  • From 1975 – 2008 she was an itinerant teacher and performer, working internationally.

  • In 1989 she co-founded the UCSB Middle East Dance Ensemble with Dr. Scott Marcus and was its director, choreographer, costume designer and principal soloist until 2010, when she retired from the group. IN 2022 she returned to the UCSB Middle East Ensemble as it's Dance Director.

  • From 2000 - 2004, she was a lecturer in the first accredited ethnic dance class at UCSB in the Department of Dramatic Arts and Dance.

  • Since 1983 she has produced dozens of theatrical events and festivals.

  • She is writer and producer of the hit folkloric ballet, SERAGLIO.

Training

The roster of her teachers includes:

  • Ballet, jazz and tap dance: Jayne Miles, NYC,  St. Thomas, VI.

  • Ballet and Modern:  Julie McLeod, Santa Barbara, CA.

  • Ballet and Point: Beth Bartlett, Santa Barbara, CA

  • Belly Dance:: Diana Ferrari, (formerly with Kos Kadas, San Francisco), Santa Barbara, CA.

  • Belly Dance: Jenaeni Rathor, Ojai, CA.

  • Bharata Natyam: Sandya Keller, Ojai, CA

  • Persian and Uzbek: Laurel Victoria Grey, Carolyn Krueger, Robyn Friend, Shahrzad Khorsandi, Los Angeles, CA

  • Lebanese Dabka: Hassan Harfouche, Los Angeles, CA

  • Turkish Folk: Ahmet Luleci (Turkish folk), CA

  • Greek Line Dance: George Alexiades, Santa Barbara, CA.

  • Egyptian folk and Belly Dance: Raqia Hassan, Mahmoud Reda, Sahra Saeeda, Los Angeles, CA

  • Armenian: Tom Bozigian (Armenian), Santa Barbara, CA

  • Saudi:  Hallah Mustafah and Kay Campbell (Harvard), Los Angeles, CA

  • Flamenco: Carmen de Torres, Seville, Spain.

Accomplishments

  • In 1983 she produced her first concert, “A Tribute to Ethnic Dance” featuring Santa Barbara’s top cultural dancers.

  • In 1984 she founded Santa Barbara’s prestigious Middle Eastern dance company, SEHER, which, from 1995 - 2010 was the official dance ensemble of the UCSB Middle East Ensemble, the largest Middle East Ensemble in the US, and the only one with dance.

  • In 1985 she produced the popular performance video "A Very Special Evening at the Plaka”, featuring herself and both of her teachers, Diana Ferrari and Jenaeni  Rathor, (Ansuya's mother).

  • In 1989 Alexandra wrote, choreographed and mounted the first full-length Middle Eastern folk ballet, "SERAGLIO”, which she toured in California and Utah. she is currently reviving it at the Arlington Theater in Santa Barbara in March, 2024.

  • In 1990 she co-founded the UCSB Middle East Ensemble with Dr. Scott Marcus and Sue Rudnicki, the largest and most prestigious ensemble of it's kind in the U.S.

  • Between 1986 -1992 she produced the best-selling four-part DVD series, “The Ancient Art of Belly Dance” which is a complete course in the basics of American cabaret belly dance, and includes performances by Ms. King

  • She founded and produced the Santa Barbara Middle East festival, MOON OVER MOROCCO in 1998 and produced it for ten years before the recession forced her to stop.

  • In 2024 she revived SERAGLIO and presented it at the Arlington Theater on March 2nd with a cast of 42 artists, to a full house and with rave reviews!

Awards

  • First place in the 1988 at the Belly Dancer of the Year pageant, Walnut Creek, CA.

  • Best Instructor, the 1995 Nafisa Gem Award for Best Instructor.

  • Nominated Best Instructor, 1998, International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance (IAMED).

  • Best Instructor, 1999, IAMED

  • Best Cabaret Dancer 2003, IAMED.

  • Nominated for the Lifetime Achievement Award, 2005 by the Santa Barbara Dance Alliance

Testimonials

"She is a bawdy courtesan, star-making teacher, ground-breaking director and a provocative and engaging performer. Her love of the dance is an obvious extension of her soul." ~ Belly Dance Magazine

"When you danced my mouth dropped and I wasn't able to breathe...your performance was incredible"! ~ G.B. Bakersfield, CA

"There are no words to describe your dancing".~ L.S. Forest Hills, N.Y

"Alexandra King "Wows" the audience!" ~ Arab American News

"When Alexandra King dances it is beautiful" ~ SB Independent

"Your dancing sets my soul free" ~ B.T. Los Angeles, CA

"Alexandra's enthusiasm, extensive knowledge of the dance forms and cultures, and obvious enjoyment of teaching combine to make one of the most enjoyable and exciting classes I've had!". ~ UCSB Student

"Alexandra King is one of the most knowledgeable, dedicated and brilliantly inspirational women I know. She is a true gift to the Middle Eastern dance community". ~ S. T., Sponsor, N. C.

"She is amazing". ~ J. S., Sponsor, Pacific Grove, CA. 

"She is so settled and steeped in her physical and intellectual understanding of the art of belly dance that there is a relaxed natural way about her teaching.  When I am in her class, I am actually dancing, not just learning movements and drilling/repeating them. There is a balance between technique and personal creative expression".  ~KC, beginning student, Santa Barbara, CA.

The UCSB Middle East Dance Ensemble

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The UCSB Middle East Dance Ensemble is the official dance company of the MEE. They are dance artists who perform regularly in the quarterly concerts as well as outside the university concerts in other venues and shows. Some are  artists-in-training who are learning the arts of Middle Eastern dance, working with seasoned dancers in the company before leaving and becoming professionals. Those who stay usually become company members with the MEE. The repertoire features all styles of belly dance, as well as classical, folk and regional folkloric dances of the Middle East. 

The Alexandra King Ensemble

The  Alexandra King Ensemble is Santa Barbara's Middle premiere Middle Eastern dance company. The company is not part of the UCSB Middle Eastern Dance Ensemble; it is a diverse group of amateur dancers who perform throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties at a variety of local events, including:  SB Fiesta, (July-August), The Avocado Festival, (October), The Sunken Garden Thriller Bash (October) and every few months at Beth Amines Wildcat Variety Show, and at private and corporate events.

 

The repertoire features all styles of belly dance, including American, Egyptian and Turkish cabarets, as well as Tribal styles, flamenco fusion and folkloric dances of the Middle East. These dynamic styles performed in fabulous costumes and passionate artists, creates stunning shows that entertain and inspire!

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